Play Specialist

Emma Franks is a Play Specialist at Barts and The London Children’s Hospital. Her job is to use play to distract children during treatment that may be painful or unpleasant, or to prepare them for treatment.

Emma’s day varies depending on if she is working with a ‘day case’ or on a ward. A ‘day case’ is a child who is in hospital for one day only, and who has come in for a particular procedure such as an operation. Emma will provide them with play and distraction, and will help them understand what will happen while they are in the hospital. Emma often uses books, pictures, toys and real medical equipment to explain what is going to happen. She will also be there to comfort them after the operation.

If she is working on a ward Emma will set up activities and games for the children to play with. As well as working with the child she also supports their family, especially if they have any brothers or sisters visiting them. Emma enjoys “working with the children and letting them have a positive experience in hospital”.

Emma trained and worked as a nursery nurse before training to become a play specialist. Her advice for people thinking of becoming a play specialist is to get a broad range of experience of working with children of all ages. Experience working with families or children with special needs is especially useful.